Archive for St Catherines Monastery


My 10 Top Travel Photos of 2011

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2011 has again been a good year for me to discover wonderful new places in the world. Rather than bore you with a very brief and inadequate description, I thought I’d rely on the old saying of “a picture paints a thousand words” or rather in this case a photo. Here are my favourite photos I took during the last year.

Kronborg Castle

My first trip of the year was to the Danish capital of Copenhagen. I’ve been there many times and decided to head up the coast to Helsingor and the famous Kronborg Castle. It is said to be the setting for Shakespeare’s famous play “Hamlet”.

Kronborg Castle – One of Northern Europe’s finest Renaissance castles


Sveti Stefan

I spent a couple of days on the Montenegro coast at Sveti Stefan overlooking this iconic iselt.

Sveti Stefan – Famous visitors here include Elizabeth Taylor and Sophie Loren.


Mandarin Fish

My first diving trip to Manado was extremely rewarding. On a night dive I managed to capture a couple of pictures of the elusive Mandarin Fish on a night dive.

The elusive Mandarin Fish on Bunaken Island, Manado, Indonesia


Queens Colours 1/24th Regiment

The Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 was the greatest defeat a British force ever suffered at the hands of a native army. On that fateful January day, the Queens Colours of 1/24th Regiment were lost in the Buffalo River. Two weeks later, against all odds they were recovered. Queen Victoria added a wreath of immortals around the crown as reminder of what happened to those colours at Isandlwana. Today, they are hanging in the Havard side chapel in Brecon Cathedral, Wales.

Queens COlours of 1/24th Regiment that were lost and later found after the Battle of Isandlwana in January 1879.


Burning Bush / Fire Extinguisher

High in the Sinai Mountains in St Catherine’s Monastery. It is a hugely significant religious site and  this picture is of the Burning Bush. I found it slightly amusing that there is a fire extinguisher next to it…just in case.

In 2011, the Burning Bush is less of a safety risk that back in the days when it was described in the book of Exodus thanks to a fire extinguisher.


Soldier on guard, Hall of Valour

The Battle of Stalingrad was an horrendous fight to the death for hundreds of thousands of Russian and German soldiers. Today at the Hall of Valour at Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, there is a permanent guard.

A soldier stands guard in the Hall of Valour, Mamayev Kurgan, Volgograd


Petra through the Siq

The Siq at Petra is a long passage all visitors have to travel through to reach the famous Red City. As you approach the end, you get your first glimpse of the Treasury in Petra.

Nearing the end of the Siq and catching a first sight of the Treasury at Petra.


Kotor – cruise ship

The old walled town of Kotor in Montenegro is a popular cruise destination.

A cruise ship docked at Kotor, Montenegro



This photo isn’t so much a favourite, I just want to highlight a problem (excuse the blurriness). When threatened, Pufferfish expand their bodies. Its a rare sight and is incredibly stressful for them. On this night dive in Aqaba, the guide annoyed this Pufferfish enough for it to puff out it’s body. I was really annoyed that someone meant to educate and protect the marine environment could do this. It was at a 5* PADI centre in a marine park.

This poor Pufferfish was annoyed by our dive guide and felt it had to expand it’s body to defend itself.


Ma’In Hotsprings

If you want to visit a fantastic spa resort in a stunning setting, the Ma’In Hotsprings 260m below sea level in Jordan will not disappoint.

The main waterfall at the fabulous Ma’In Hotsprings in Jordan.


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Thats all from me for 2011, now I’m looking forward to 2012 which will take me to more new places and the Euro 2012 Championships in Ukraine.


A Day Trip to St Catherine’s Monastery

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One of the many interesting places to visit on a day trip from the seaside resorts in the Sinai is St Catherine’s Monastery. This UNESCO site lies right in the centre of the Sinai Peninsula high up in the mountains and dates back to the 5th century. The story of St Catherine is that she was a Christian from Alexandria. Her father had raised her as a pagan but as well as converting herself to Christianity, Catherine also converted among others, a Roman emperor’s wife. According to the story, after her death angels transported Catherine’s body to Mount Sinai and it is her that the Monastery was established and it is the oldest working Christian Monastery in the world. Around 25 monks live there and Orthodox pilgrims are able to stay overnight here.

If you plan to visit the St Catherine’s, you need to be aware that it is only open for a few hours in the morning. At midday, it closes its doors and visitors aren’t allowed in. However, this isn’t a problem as a number of excursions arrive here around 2am. This allows people to take the 3hr climb up the footpath to the top of Mount Sinai to see the spectacular sun rise. After that, they descend and visit the Monastery.

There are a number of little shops around the car park and visitors are swamped by people trying to sell books and all sorts of souvenirs. The walk up to the Monastery from the car park is a couple of hundred yards but you do have the option to ride a camel up there. The slope isn’t too challenging so we chose to walk. As it turned out, the biggest problem was a series of locals trying to sell us books and other assorted tat.

The Monastery itself its fascinating, Inside the main building you will find a typical Orthodox place of worship with numerous icons. Photos may not be taken inside the Monastery building and both men and women are required to cover legs and arms out of respect when entering. Once outside, you can see the ‘Burning Bush’ which is mentioned in the Bible and to be on the safe side, there is a fire extinguisher next to it. After the tour of the St Catherine’s is over, it is recommended that you make the short climb up the hill opposite to get a wonderful panoramic view of the Monastery and gardens.

Excursions to St Catherine’s operate most days from the resorts of Taba, Nuweiba and Sharm el Sheikh. There are variations on the itinerary to suit with some leaving early to see the sun rise while others depart just after breakfast and also include a visit to Dahab for something to eat and a bit of shopping.


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